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Püha Vere reliikvia ja Tallinnast leitud palverännumärgid (lk 30–47)


Relic of the Holy Blood and Pilgrim Badges Found in Tallinn

The quantity of medieval pilgrim badges discovered in Estonia has significantly increased over the past six years. In 2018, during archaeological excavations in a 15th-century landfill located in the vicinity of Jahu and Väike-Patarei streets in Tallinn, close to forty pilgrim badges and scallops were unearthed. Some of these artifacts, either fragmented or without parallels elsewhere in Europe, remain unidentified. Among these lead-tin alloy badges was a two-piece fragment depicting a figure holding a flag with a lily and a partially preserved vessel, encircled by a Middle Low German inscription in minuscule, which translates as “…count of Schwerin” and “badge of the holy…”. Additionally, in the same year, a similar badge was discovered in another excavation in Tallinn. This badge, too, is fragmented, but fortunately, the entire inscription can be reconstructed. It commences with: “guncelinus greue van swery[n]”, and extends to the other side of a small coat of arms: “teke[n] des hilgen blodes to rige”. The stylistic features of the badge allow for dating it to the latter half of the 15th century.

Until recently, only one type of pilgrim souvenir had been associated with medieval Livonia, particularly Riga: an almond-shaped badge from the late 13th century depicting the Madonna seated on a throne, encircled by an inscription in majuscule: “SIGNVM S MARIE IN LIVONIA REMISSIONIS PECCATORVM.” Discoveries in Tallinn now suggest that by the late Middle Ages, a generic badge like this no longer met the demands of pilgrims, leading to the production of specific badges for the relic of the Holy Blood in Riga Cathedral.

Previously, it remained uncertain when and how this precious relic had arrived in Riga. The inscription on the badge mentions Schwerin, where at least one, if not two, relics of the Holy Blood were housed in the Cathedral, notably one gifted by Count Heinrich I in 1222. Further examination of the historical and familial ties between the Church of Riga and Schwerin unveiled that Count Gunzelin III, Heinrich I’s son, was summoned to Livonia as a crusader in 1267 and appointed by Albert Suerbeer as the protector of the Archdiocese. Even more intriguingly, Gunzelin’s son Johannes, a canon in Schwerin, was elected as the Archbishop of Riga in 1294. Documentation from the late 1290s suggests that the Cathedral of Schwerin received a fragment of the relic of the Holy Cross from the Church of Riga. Hence, it is probable that in the late 1290s, the Churches of Riga and Schwerin engaged in an exchange of revered relics, with a portion of the Holy Blood relic arriving from Schwerin to Riga during that period. In the late 14th and 15th centuries, this relic became embroiled in conflicts between the Archbishop of Riga and the Teutonic Order in Livonia.

The central figure depicted on the pilgrim badges likely represents either Gunzelin I, the first count of Schwerin, who received a relic of the Holy Blood from Henry the Lion of Saxony, or Gunzelin III, the progenitor of Archbishop Johannes, who established a chantry of the Holy Blood in the Cathedral of Schwerin in 1274, linking it with the memoria of his lineage. In either scenario, it underscores the enduring importance, even into the latter half of the 15th century, for the Church of Riga to commemorate Gunzelin’s name on the badge and visually associate him with the relic of Riga. The partially preserved vessel held by the figure likely represents a monstrance, alluding to the golden monstrance in which the Riga relic was housed. The banner bearing a lily and the diminutive coat of arms with the same emblem at the count’s feet may either signify the coat of arms of the early counts of Schwerin, featuring a lily flanked by two dragons, or the coat of arms of the cathedral chapter of Riga. The discovery of two distinct badges in Tallinn originating from different matrices suggests that the production of pilgrim souvenirs in Riga was likely quite prolific. It remains uncertain whether the relic of the Holy Cross also had its own badge or if metal badges were similarly crafted at other pilgrimage sites in Livonia.